In the optical world, we talk a lot about effective marketing. It’s is a substantial growth driver, whether via nontraditional advertising, unique partnerships, influence marketing or digital communication.
What’s the most overlooked tool in the marketing world? Merchandising. And that’s crazy when you consider how research shows that nearly 90 percent of buying decisions are made in-store. So why not be ready with an environment that connects well with patients?
Merchandising is no longer just about random point-of-purchase displays scattered around the office. When used successfully, personalized merchandising paired with your own refreshed brand can establish a powerful, long-lasting experience between brand and consumer.
Nordstrom makes it its business to do whatever is necessary to please the consumer, which is why customers typically find a pair of shoes in every possible color and size. (And if something is out of stock? A sales associate may actually buy it at retail from a competitor, then resell it to the customer who wants to buy it at Nordstrom.) This “make it happen” attitude is paired with uncluttered, curated departments with contemporary displays that highlight brands in an on-trend fashion. This pleasing environment turns the shopping chore into an enjoyable experience.
Starbucks founder Howard Schultz expanded on this model to elevate his company from simple coffee retailer to ambiance merchant blending community and customs with coffee. Through Schultz’s savvy use of marketing dollars, Starbucks visitors came to expect a multi-sensory experience that was replicated in each store, from the sights, sounds and smells of coffee being ground to the familiar expectations of layout, furniture, music and wireless access.
In his book The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg coined the term “third place” to describe the spaces we go when we’re not at home and we’re not at work. Starbucks has nailed this idea, establishing a strong emotional bond and brand loyalty. And although you are selling eyewear, not coffee, there’s no reason why you can’t reach consumers through all their senses.
Since you’re in the optical business, refreshed visual branding is an ideal place to start. Everyone knows the Starbucks logo. Do your customers know yours? Do you carry out your brand through smart signage, window graphics and other in-store elements, as well as in your other forms of marketing? If your look is haphazard, your balance sheet probably is, too. It’s time for optical businesses to embrace the new world of professional, personalized merchandising as a marketing strategy. No longer is it acceptable to have a wall of frames without any merchandising support and hope that sales will grow. Random posters and counter cards that may or may not fit your space won’t cut it any more, either.
Your patients want more. In fact, they’re demanding more, and they’ll go elsewhere (online, perhaps?) when you don’t provide it. The good news is we have better tools than ever before to give your business a look and experience people won’t get anywhere else.
BILL GERBER is creative director of OMG!, the Optical Marketing Group, which helps optical businesses fine-tune their spaces into a cohesive, customized modern environments where sales and customer satisfaction grow. Learn more at omghome.net.
This article originally appeared in the November-December 2015 edition of INVISION.